Where would you build your monastery in a time of political turmoil? For the orthodox monks of the 14th century the clear and favourable answer was perched atop giant rock outcrops, so precariously that even the monks themselves had trouble reaching them. Reminiscent of some other wordly land straight out of a fairytale, the landscape here is broken up by huge pinnacles of rock rising a thousand feet in the air and weathered to appear like emmental cheese.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is to be found in Thessaly, Greece and is roughly a five hour train journey north of Athens.
With great difficulty about 24 monasteries were built from the 11th century onwards and continued to house flourishing centres of worship up until the 1700s. Sadly only 6 remain, the highest and oldest of which is great Meteoron.
The monks even had to go so far as to hoist each other up in baskets suspended by a rope, although visitors today can experience the views and magnitude via steps and bridges added in the 1920s.
The meteora rock formations rise above The Peneas Valley, home to the quaint town of Kalambaka.The columns are made up of sandstone conglomerate, left standing after the softer rock surrounding them was washed away by 60 million years of erosion.
All the monasteries are open to the public but please bear in mind that four of these still house religious communities so you should dress conservatively and behave in a respectful manner befitting the calm, contemplative mood of the place.